Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

This was the first time I cooked with a cast iron skillet. I was looking forward to it because this is a dish I wanted to prepare using just a single pot. Without any cast iron in my cupboards, I visited Bed, Bath & Beyond. I picked up an affordable, $25 skillet. I seasoned it and put it to work.

I was very happy with how this dish came out. It was a gray, cool day and this was perfect comfort food. Furthermore, the cast iron was easy to work with. Many of the reviews I read of the skillet I bought were negative, but I had no problems.

Shepherd's Pie

4-6 servings

For the potatoes
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1 cup heavy cream, plus milk if required
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk

For the meat filling
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion (1/2 of a medium onion)
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves

1. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1 inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil.

2. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Place the heavy cream and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds.

4. Drain the potatoes in a colander, let sit for 10 minutes, then mash the potatoes with a ricer. Gradualy add the cream, butter, salt and pepper and fold with a wooden spoon until smooth. If the potatoes are very thick after the cream and butter have been added, you can warm some milk and add that, 1/2 cup at a time.

5. Stir in the yolk until well combined. (The yolk will help the potatoes to brown.)

6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

7. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place a 12-inch iron skillet over medium high heat.

8. Add the oil, wait for it to heat up, then add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.

9. Add the garlic and stir to combine.

10. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3-5 minutes.

11. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute.

12. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine.

13. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

13. Remove from heat, then top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula.

14. Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

15. Next, move to broiler for 2-4 minutes to brown the potatoes.

16. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

I really liked the presentation of this dish. Since my skillet was well-seasoned, it was a snap to clean. Also, I used closer to 2 pounds of lamb, so I used a bit more flour in an attempt to get a thicker gravy. Ideally, the potatoes will be boiling as you prepare the filling. Then, when the meat is simmering, you will prepare the mashed potatoes. If both the potatoes and filling are hot, you may even skip the time in the oven and go straight to the broiler.


  1. Perfectly browned mashed potato top, melt-in-your-mouth filing. You are correct! Flawless gray weather day fare. Any day really!

  2. I must say I miss your surf blog, but I enjoy your cooking blog. I have never been much of a cook, but you have inspired me to try....
    Thanks C-Dub

  3. miss bcb as well....

    glad this one is still active. haven't tried any of your creations....but some of them sound incredible. will have to give a few a go....after april 15th

  4. Thanks C Dun and Twin. I think that one day I will write about the ocean again, but I needed a break. I hope you two are well. :)

  5. Cast iron is the rox

    Word verification: shispit

  6. The skillet was pretty great. I think it will be the go to cookware for food that I want to prepare and present in one dish.

    Shispit! My new expletive of choice.

  7. Cast iron is awesome! I have nearly a dozen cast iron skillets in various sizes and use them for almost everything.

    Try making cornbread in yours. I put a simple recipe here.

    Thanks for the new creative expletive! :)

  8. Hi Yanatil,

    Thanks for the link. Your cornbread looks delicious!